Flicker of hope for my beloved kingdom . . .
An interesting story has been doing the rounds around Maseru. It goes like this. During one of his moody days, Tlali Kennedy Kamoli pitched up at a cabinet meeting announced. He then forced the chairman, ntate Mosisili, to halt proceedings halfway through. The Premier dutifully complied.
The reason for ntate Kamoli doing all this, the story goes, was because he wanted to show who is indeed the mighty King of this country. He wanted to prove where real power resides. King Kamoli then ordered all male ministers to remove their vests and shirts and move into the grounds of State House to each perform a 100 press ups.
Younger cabinet members like the ever indefatigable Selibe Mochoboroane and Josh Setipa quickly stripped off their vests, exposing their well aligned six packs. They all rushed into the grounds of State House as ordered. In less than a minute Mochoboroane and Setipa had each completed their 100 press (push) ups? The older members of the cabinet struggled. Ntate Mosisili could not complete in the first minute but finished in the third minute. Ample proof that he is still a spring chicken and fit to be Prime Minister. Ntate Moleleki, still recovering from a near terminal illness, struggled but completed the task in the ninth minute. So was Ntate Metsing, who nevertheless showed a bit of a bulging pot belly after removing his shirt off. Other members of the cabinet followed suit and completed the pushups except Ntate Moeketse Malebo of Marematlou Freedom Party infamy. Ntate Malebo, could only manage 24 press ups before collapsing flat on his nose and tummy before fainting.
After the press ups, King Kamoli then ordered the male cabinet members to do 40 squats each. They did as ordered and completed the exercise at varying times with the younger Mochoboroanes and Setipas excelling again. Talk about the need for younger people to take charge.
King Kamoli then ordered all female members of the cabinet to line up in front of their male cabinet members. They all started sweating heavily, not knowing what to anticipate. King Kamoli, the story continues, ordered them to lift their skirts to their waistlines. They all knelt downwards and before doing as ordered, King Kamoli laughed loudly and asked them to stop.
He then ordered the male cabinet members to find a cart to hoist him around State House while he sat atop, effectively copying Uganda’s former “leader” Idi Amin who humiliated British businessmen by ordering them to carry him around the grounds of State House in Kampala in a makeshift throne.
By doing so Amin wanted to prove who indeed was King of Uganda. Unfortunately for King Kamoli, no make shift throne or cart could immediately be found around State House.
Angry that he could not force the cabinet members to perform the final act of submission, King Kamoli then jumped into his motorcade and left State House with sirens of his guard vehicles wailing noisily and his menacing bodyguards waving high calibre rifles in case of any sudden threats.
Having been put in their modest place, the now heavily perspiring cabinet members went back into the conference to adjourn their meeting, having been shown who is the real King of Lesotho.
Iheard this story while downing my favourite brandy at Khali “Hotel”. I laughed my lungs off. It sounded like a sick leprechaun or fairy tale meant to besmirch the “impeccable reputation” of our “highly disciplined”, “diligent” and “overly qualified” commander in chief of the LDF.
You may of course ask what lady Scrutator was doing at the wretched Khali “Hotel” instead of mingling with members of my high class at Mpilo Boutique or Lesotho Sun. The answer is simple. I am a woman of the people. So at times, I have to mix with the very bottom rung of society to get a feel of what it is to be at the bottom end.
There is no better place to do that than at the once venerable Khali “hotel”. I have since heard the story of the cabinet press ups being repeated several times. Is it therefore true or just a rampant joke.
The story reminded me of another that Mme Liabiloe loves sharing with friends. Ntate Motsoahae’s concubine has repeatedly recounted an unforgettable incident when King Kamoli met the ousted Premier at State House for routine consultations before their relationship headed south.
It was only the two of them in the room. All seemed well until Cyclone Tom said something that annoyed the King. King Kamoli then stood up, grabbed Ntate Motsoahae by the neck, lifted him and pinned him against the wall. Slapped him be- fore dropping him on the carpet and walking away. When Mme Liabiloe entered the room, she recounted how she saw her elderly lover gasping for breath. Lucky he survived.
Whether or not these stories about how King Kamoli exercises his unfettered powers are true or false is whole beside the point. It is now conventional wisdom that no one walks on the same grass walked by the mighty King himself. For the purpose of my point, let’s consider all these stories true.
For me, they confirm the love-hate relationship between Ntate Mosisili and the report of the SADC’S Phumaphi Commission.
You will by now have either read in full Ntate Mosisili’s speech to Parliament this week about his coalition government’s “progress” in implementing the recommendations of the Phumaphi inquiry or at least have heard about it. This in the wake of a SADC deadline that
The point is that Ntate Mosisili’s is a master in sophistry. His delivery in Parliament was spectacular. He praised the Phumaphi report for all the good findings that suits him and his allies. To be fair on him, there was an important finding made by Justice Phumaphi that the media either ignored or scantily reported on. This was the commission’s statement that it found no evidence of political killings or kidnappings of opposition leaders.
“To us in government, these are very important findings,” said the Premier.
“It will be recalled that at the material time, rumour was rife that the Lesotho government was sponsoring systematic killings of members of the opposition. It was very difficult to dispel these rumours because they were supported not only by the opposition but also by the media and or civil society,” the Premier noted.
Information that the government was killing opponents was not only mere rumour. It was published as fact. For example, the Sunday Times, South Africa’s biggest newspaper, which has a syndication system with some of the world’s most established media groups in the UK and America, reported that the “Mosisili government had embarked on a systematic campaign of nass killings and brutal torture of opponents ……….. etc”. This was clearly false reporting and caused severe reputational damage to the government.
The Premier was thus right to highlight the commission’s finding repudiating this high
Scrutator is not the only important individual who thinks Lesotho is far better off without King Kamoli in charge. The Americans have said it. The Europeans have said so. The SADC has said it. Hundreds of thousands of Basotho have said it. If Ntate Mosisili has indeed found a way out for King Kamoli, then the Premier has defined his greatest legacy.
But the question is, if the mighty King of the LDF can indeed force the premier and his entire cabinet to do press ups (assuming this story is not beer hall fantasy), what chances are there that the Premier can indeed coax him into leaving a post he so avariciously cavorts.
The rumour mill in Maseru remains in overdrive. Some say a special embassy is being opened in either Siberia or Kathmandu for King Kamoli.
He will man it on his own to keep himself busy, just in case he returns to wreak havoc again. Another suggestion is that he might be seconded to nigeria to help fight Boko Haram. I will hold my breath till Ntate Mosisili’s promised statement.
Cynics however insist that the King is not going anywhere. They say Ntate Mosisili’s statement is a ruse to hoodwink SADC into believing that something is being done to implement its key recommendation that the mighty King must go. But Scrutator has no reason to doubt the Premier.
I am tired of living in fear of the mighty King. Each time I see his motorcade, I sprint away. What if he sees me, pulls of the high calibre pistol that resplends his waistline and pumps ten bullets into my small head in the full knowledge that he is above the law and will get away with anything.
If he keeps his word, Ntate Mosisili’s speech this week may thus turn out to be his best ever, for telling King Kamoli to go to hell but in such a nice romantic language that the mighty King actually looks forward to the trip.
I insist, there is now a flicker of hope for Lesotho.
Whites kneel before Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in this 1975 file picture.
Whites carrying Amin on a makeshift throne at State House in Kampala (1975 file photo).